Concepcion eyes pilot testing of ‘bakuna bubble’

Louella Desiderio - The Philippine Star
Concepcion eyes pilot testing of âbakuna bubbleâ
Residents receive their first dose of Moderna vaccine at the "Vaccine Express" of Vice President Leni Robredo's team in San Pedro Laguna on Aug. 28, 2021.
The STAR / Geremy Pintolo

MANILA, Philippines — The proposed “vaccine bubble” designed for a safe reopening of the economy during the pandemic should be tested in local government units (LGUs) in Metro Manila with high vaccination rates, an adviser of President Duterte said yesterday.

“We can implement the bakuna bubble concept in an LGU in NCR (National Capital Region) with a high vaccination rate to test if the model will work,” presidential adviser for entrepreneurship and Go Negosyo founder Joey Concepcion said.

Should the test be successful, the bakuna bubble may then be implemented on the NCR level as vaccinations increase.

Under the proposed bubble, vaccinated individuals would be required to show their vaccine card, while the unvaccinated would have to present a negative antigen or RT-PCR (reverse transcription - polymerase chain reaction) test before entering high-risk establishments such as restaurants, salons, coffee shops and gyms.

Transport groups have expressed support for the proposed bakuna bubbles by offering to field special buses for this purpose.

Through an intensified vaccine rollout and the creation of bakuna bubbles, Concepcion said the country would quickly achieve herd immunity.

“For the entire Philippines to achieve higher vaccination rates, these bakuna bubbles have to likewise cooperate in vaccinating their members. These are small steps that will then accumulate,” he said.

In addition to achieving 100 percent vaccination in families and employees, he said each bubble should have its own strict health and safety protocols to enforce, which should include COVID-19 testing after each household member or employee leaves their own bubble to see other people.

Concepcion said the bakuna bubble is also seen to mitigate the spread of emerging variants of COVID-19.

“This is a reasonable consideration for us to constrict the mobility of the unvaccinated, as the only thing we want is to protect them and save their lives at all costs,” he said.

He cited data from the Makati Medical Center which showed a majority of its COVID-19 patients are unvaccinated.

At the Philippine General Hospital, 199 of 280 COVID-19 patients as of Aug. 26 were also unvaccinated.

As for those who have been fully vaccinated, he said SARS-CoV-2 infections were found to be minimal.

“Most of our healthcare workers who were already fully vaccinated did not even require getting hospitalized for intensive treatment because they’re already inoculated,” he said.

“The presence of the Delta variant has changed the game, but the key objectives of vaccines – preventing hospitalization, deaths and transmission – remain the same. Those fully vaccinated have a slimmer chance of contracting severe infections and that is for certain,” he added.


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